The United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah Malac, yesterday signed a US$124,755 agreement with several community groups across the country.
The Self-Help Fund will provide US$99,755 in grant money to support community development initiatives focused on income generation and skills development, while the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) will provide US$25,000 to support community-based food security projects.
These funds originated from two sources—the “Ambassador’s Special Self Help Funds” and the USADF respectively.
According to Amb. Malac, the USADF was established in Togo in 1964 as an experimental and modest self-help program for Africa. It is now one of the most successful assistance initiatives in Africa and covers the entire continent.
The US Envoy said the USADF is a grassroots assistance program that lets Ambassadors respond quickly to small community-based development projects that promise to have immediate impact.
“Self-Help Fund projects always include an important and significant contribution by the participants. In Liberia this often includes provision of labor, land and other materials,” she explained.
Ambassador Malac stated that since the program began in Liberia in 2004, it has funded 157 projects for a total of over US$695,000, covering all 15 counties with over 252,000 beneficiaries.
She further stated that in 2009, the USADF contributed various amounts of money from US$25,000 to US$50,000 to fund small-scale projects to promote food security.
USADF is an independent federal agency established to support African-designed and African-driven grassroots solutions to economic and social problems.
“This year,” said Amb. Malac, ‘’the embassy received over 100 proposals, from which 17 projects were selected. Of those projects 13 will be funded through U.S. State Department’s Economic Support Funds while four will be funded from ADF grants.”
This year’s projects focus on a variety of income generation opportunities including support to those in the agricultural sector for the cultivation of cassava, rice and vegetables, said the American Ambassador.
Other income generation projects include skills training in soap making, beekeeping, animal husbandry and the provision of cassava grinders and machines used for processing palm oil and kernel oil.
The projects this year are located in Margibi, Bomi, Nimba, Lofa, Maryland, Montserrado, Grand Kru, Grand Cape Mount and Grand Bassa counties.
“We are thrilled to established these partnerships and we hope this signing ceremony is the start of a long and meaningful relationship between the U.S. Embassy and the local communities,” Amb. Malac declared.
Aaron Kollie, chief executive officer of Power TV who spoke on behalf of the grantees, thanked Ambassador Malac and the U.S. government for the bilateral agreement between the two countries.